Microsoft issued a meaty Windows Insider Build on Wednesday for the Dev channel, testing one substantial improvement: Voice Access, as well as a couple of personalization improvements that should be welcomed by Windows users. Technically, the new features offered in Build 22518 of the Dev Channel for Windows 11 are new, untested code, which might not even make it to the stable channel. Still, there's a good chance that at least Voice Access will come to market, as it leans on Microsoft's accessibility strengths. Microsoft's new build has also added a "Spotlight" feature that will provide fresh, updated desktop backgrounds, and it tweaked the Widgets feature to resemble Windows 10. Microsoft describes Voice Access as a new feature, and one that's distinct from dictation, which has been in Windows for some time.
If you want a USB microphone for more than just streaming, Best Buy is the place to be today. The online retailer is selling the Blue Yeti X World of Warcraft edition for $95. That's about $45 cheaper than you'll play elsewhere. We took a look at Yeti X as part of our round-up of the best USB microphones for streaming. We deemed it an ideal mic for multi-purpose set-ups beyond just streaming. In terms of audio performance, we found that it was similar to the Elgato Wave:3, which was our top pick for the best USB microphones.
On Wednesday, Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor platform for PCs, claiming that the chip will offer up to 85 percent more performance than the prior generation. That's good, given that the pandemic severely undercut the value proposition of Snapdragon-powered PCs--long battery life and always-on mobile connectivity--as office work life moved to the home office desk and couch. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 arrived this past spring at about the performance of the original Microsoft Surface Laptop, though with substantially higher graphics chops. Qualcomm's aggressive performance predictions about the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 are based on its new process shrink--from 7nm in the Gen 2 to a new, aggressive 5nm node in Gen 3. In all, Qualcomm believes that the chip will offer 85 percent more CPU performance than the prior generation, and 60 percent additional GPU performance. "We focused on really driving these features and capabilities in the mainstream PC segment," said Miguel Nunes, vice president of product management for Qualcomm, in a briefing with reporters.
Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile processor for smartphones at the Qualcomm Tech Summit in Hawaii late on Tuesday, adding substantially more performance and AI-powered features to 2022 smartphones. However, one of those may be controversial. While you may be used to your phone always listening for commands, are you ready for its camera to be always on, too? In an interesting twist, Snapdragon 8 phones will even be able to mint NFTs. Now the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is poised to help launch even more, beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
Thanksgiving is behind us, and the holiday shopping season is now officially in full swing. If you didn't manage to find gifts for everyone on your list during Black Friday, don't fret. We're here to help make your gift-giving decisions easier with a list of excellent, and affordable, tech products that can please an array of friends and family members. All of our recommended gifts under $50 have been thoroughly tested (by our expert reviewers at PCWorld and sister publication TechHive) and received at least a 4 out of 5 verdict. What's more, while all of these products have an MSRP under $50, many of them can be found on sale now for even less at the links we provided.
Black Friday is all but here, and you can already start snapping up worthwhile tech deals on Amazon. After an early trickle of discounts that began at the start of the month, the good sales are now coming at us fast. You can't wait anymore on what you see, because everyone else is shopping now, too. To make it easier to snap up the best deals, we've sifted through the offerings and pulled out those worth attention. These bargains meet our usual criteria for a good deal: The price is near an all-time low or is a larger discount than usually available.
The bacchanalia of consumerism that is Black Friday is generally focused on physical items -- you can't really market a "doorbuster" for a subscription deal to your local newspaper. But there are plenty of digital game stores that get in on the fun around this time of year, too. It's definitely worth a look to see if you can find some deals, especially if you want some new titles to show off that new PC hardware you're loading up on. While there are literally hundreds of discounts to be found on PC games across the various storefronts, the absolute best bang for your buck is probably Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass for PC, which is already the best deal in PC gaming at full price. Normally $10 a month for Netflix-style access to a few hundred PC games, a current promotion is letting players subscribe for three months for just one measly little dollar.
Specialized webcams that support Windows Hello are still, surprisingly, rare. Microsoft's secure-login system using fingerprint, biometric, and facial recognition technology is, after all, a unique feature of Windows 10 and Windows 11. It makes sense users would want to pair a desktop PC or older laptop with a Windows Hello-compatible camera in order to get its convenient security benefits. You might think that Microsoft's just-announced Modern Webcam would be an option, but, alas, it offers no Windows Hello support! That omission is even weirder given that Microsoft's Windows 10 21H1 release prioritizes external, Windows Hello-enabled webcams over the integrated laptop camera.
Should I buy a Chromebook or a Windows laptop? It's a common question, whether asked by parents weighing the best computer option for back-to-school or by people who just want an inexpensive computer for themselves. We'll help you choose the right one. Our latest update includes more answers to questions you might have: such as, how slow (and inexpensive) can a Chromebook be before it stops being usable? What does Windows 11 and Windows 11 SE mean for laptops? Read on for the answers, plus our up-to-date buying guide for November 2021 and Black Friday, plus more details and what to buy. A notebook PC or laptop powered by Microsoft Windows offers several advantages. Windows offers the most flexibility to run just about any app, your choice of any browser, and configure antivirus options, utilities, and more. You can tweak and configure your PC as you choose. That convenience demands more computing horsepower, and often a higher price compared to most Chromebooks. Prices can soar into the thousands of dollars, and if you need a powerful PC for gaming or video editing, Chromebooks can't compete, and they don't try to. But you'll find some great deals among our more affordably priced, top Windows picks. See our buying guide to the best laptops for even more options.
Early Black Friday deals are already rolling out, with more new sales showing up every day. For 2021, there's concern whether shipping issues will mean less stuff on the shelves for the holidays. As we've already been hearing for months, the global supply chain is seriously backed up with bottlenecks occurring at key points. Hoping to deal with an already difficult situation, retailers stretched out the shopping season as much as they dared, what with shipping timelines stretching to frustrating levels. These supply problems are supposed to be felt acutely in technology, or so the market watchers say.